"Hello everyone! It's so nice of you all to visit on my birthday," I greeted the arriving guests and gestured to the sitting room, which was located at the front of one of the many hallways in my family's house. I thought about the numerous rooms and corridors that were placed in my house as I watched everyone enter. Some rooms I hadn't ever been in; my parents prevented me from visiting them. I lived in a very grand house, decorated in baby blue paint with white trim around the roof, doors, and windows. The patio stretched far and was made up of large stone slabs cemented together that I enjoyed resting on when they heated in the sun. The deck, which hung off the backside of the building, supplied a view of serenity: a field of various wild flowers and a small, rushing river settled before a tall, grassy meadow that I loved to spend time in.
"Oops, sorry, sir," I exclaimed as I accidentally elbowed somebody on their hips. "I didn't see you there," I finished in a polite tone, hoping it would make up for the accident.
"I'm very sure you did, you little-" Just then, my mother swooped in, right before the raspy voice could complete the nasty end of his sentence. She was a wonderful woman, with the same luxurious brown hair that I have acquired, as well as a bounce in her step and her voice that I have also come to own. She was caring and very over protective, as was my father, from whom I have gained bright blue eyes and a straightforward personality.
"Now, now, Mr. Jugson. This is my daughter. Remember when I was telling you about her in your office? I see you two have met, how lovely," she said in a sweet, calming sound, her short, curvy figure taking hold of his arms in a friendly manner. She crossed her arms in warning, making sure her temperamental co-worker knew not to behave so rudely in front of children.
"Er, well, yes. I do now recall the memory. I'm very sorry, young miss. Do excuse me," he articulated in a cheerier modulation. He turned and walked away, still rubbing the inflicted area. He was wearing a ragged sort of cloak and smelled strongly of smoke. He limped carelessly, bumping into random innocents, muttering under his breath.
I continued to make my rounds and welcome the new guests. For each and every person I met, I had to introduce myself and ask their name in turn. I also noticed that each one was wearing a cloak of various colors and levels of extravagance. Every single one had a strange aura hovering about them - something that I didn't yet know the name of. By the time I had moved on to the next person to ask for an introduction, I was able to hear profound whispers and muttering about a topic that made the hairs on my neck prickle.
They were all talking about me! I couldn't even begin to list all of the newfound questions I obtained about this before a petulant outburst of forced singing shushed all noise.
"Happy birthday dear Elena, happy birthday to you!" the party guests concluded, most of them grumpy.
"Thank you for all singing, dear friends. I would like to thank you all for canceling your plans to meet my daughter, Elena Mae Callen," my tall, black haired father said gratefully. I blushed as all heads turned to face mine.
"Why, yes, er, it is an... honor that you have decided to pause work and come see me on my important day. Please help yourself to any food," I added after realizing they were all waiting for some words to leave my mouth. My face turned slightly red - I was embarrassed easily, especially when becoming the center of attention so unexpectedly. I forced myself to talk professionally, as I did in front of people I wasn't comfortably acquainted with, as I did with my parents. We were a nice family, although we didn't have as close of a relationship as I would've liked.
I confronted my father after everyone had gone back to chattering about some secretive issue.
"Father, why did you invite all of the people you work with to my birthday party? Can't Blake attend, too?" I inquired. Blake Fireryn (Fire-rin) was my best friend since we met in the park at three years old. She was twelve now, as her birthday was quite earlier than mine, but we were still placed in the same year in school.
"Dear Elena, I wished for all of my co-workers to arrive here so you could get to know them. No doubt you'll be spending much of your time with them in the future. They'll become your co-workers too, in a few years, so it is best to get acquainted with them now," he replied sternly. You see, both my parents were very set on arranging me to work in the exact jobs they held. The only problem was that I didn't have any information on what it was.
"Go and enjoy your party, sweetie. They'll only be here for a few more hours, and then it will be time for you to open your gifts," my mother said before I could interrupt.
After cake was served and all the adults (save my parents) had left for home, I rushed to my room for a fleeting moment of peace to myself. The space was painted a light purple. A bay window stretched across half of one wall and stuck outside a bit, offering a fantastic image of the wild flower field. Curtains of a white, silky fabric hung loosely around the edges and billowed freely depending on the wind and whether the window was open or not. On the opposite wall was a massive bed, which had intricate designs of blue, purple, and pink swirls. A soft, transparent canopy hovered over the mattress like a guardian. The wall closest to the door played host to a fancy mirror and vanity table, which held a box of bows, a chest of jewelry, and a case of makeup. I usually only wore a small amount of mascara, though, if I put on any at all.
I placed my lavender bow back into its rightful box and flattened out my Caribbean blue skater dress.
"Elena! Can you come down here, please?" Mother called from the bottom floor. I ran to the stairs at the start of the hall on the third and top floor, where my room rested at the end. Sliding down the banister energetically, as I usually did, I laughed. It was a fast and fun way to travel to the ground floor.
"Don't you want to open your gifts?"
"Sure. Where did you place them?" I asked, and I followed my mother to a mysterious room. I hadn't ever stepped foot in this particular room yet.
The oak door creaked open to reveal a cozy room with a wood fireplace. The couches on the far side were fluffy and grey, with patterned throw pillows resting on the surface. My father was seated on one side, and my mother sat down on the other, leaving me the middle. There was only one gift on the low, glass table in front of the couch. It was a letter. The envelope was yellowing around the edges and was addressed using emerald green ink:
To Ms. Elena Mae Callen,
The Room At The End Of The Hallway,
The Third Floor,
The Callen Residence,
I carefully peeled the envelope away from a scarlet red wax seal, which depicted an 'H' surrounded by a badger, a snake, a lion, and a raven. Inside contained a piece of parchment- the letter. It was also inscribed in green ink, and it read:
HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. Of Wizards)
Dear Ms. Callen,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You will find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment. The term begins 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.
Questions exploded inside my head like fireworks, and I couldn't decide which one to ask first.
"Is this a joke?" I decided to ask.
"No. This is a real school located in Scotland. Elena, we know this is hard to process, but magic is real," Mum answered. I looked her straight in the eye to detect any signs of lying, but none were shown in her features. She was telling the truth.
"Are you sure about that? Did you drink something funny at the party?" I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
"No," Dad chuckled. "Your mum is correct. You're a witch."
"I-I... No, I'm not. Stop joking, this isn't funny. Magic isn't real." I refused to accept the facts they were trying to explain to me.
"Sweetie, please listen to us-"
"No! I'm done with these lies! I'll be in my room." I shunned all their attempts at making me believe them. For extra measure, I threw the envelope and its contents into the roaring fire. It consumed the fake object and turned it into ashes immediately.
"Goodbye," I said, pointing my nose high into the air and lifting my chin for emphasis.
They had played a prank on me during my birthday once before. I remembered it vividly:
It was also during my birthday, when I was turning eight. They told me that inside my room lay my presents, so, as an eight year old, I was naturally desperate to find out what they were. Running upstairs and flinging open the door, I was immediately splashed with freezing cold water: a bucket had been placed upon the door frame. Groaning, I managed to stop my teeth from chattering and took a cautious step forward. The floor was coated with small, plastic cups filled halfway with an ugly yellow substance. There was nowhere for me to walk, so I had to grab a cup, pour the contents into another cup, and repeat the process until a small path was cleared. On my bed a small package was placed. Opening it rapidly, I was met with a tin can. In moments the top came off, and my face became concealed in the yellow liquid that was also put into the cups on my floor. It was a prank. The substance wouldn't come out of my hair for a week.
I never forgot that horrid day.
Some time after that, though, Father gave me my real gift, which was a hired personal tutor to homeschool me. This was a great wish of mine, as I was an advanced student and the school's academic pace was too slow for my taste. I did prefer this method of teaching instead of public schools: I was now a year and a half ahead of my peers.
A large frame blocked my path to exit the room I was currently in. When I looked up, I noticed it was Father.
"Here. Read it again, and consider the possibilities. You're an intelligent girl, so I trust you will make the correct decision you need to. I know what you're thinking. This is not like your eighth birthday. This is not a joke." He thrust the exact same envelope that I threw into the flames into my hands. His voice was so serious that it scared me a little bit.
"How...? How did you manage to acquire the envelope that burst into flames moments ago?" I sputtered, asking the question that I was dying to figure out the answer to.
"Perhaps it would be wise to completely observe the room you are in, Elena," my mother suggested. Following her advice, I surveyed my surroundings. A bookshelf rested against the wall closest to the door. There was a thin ledge that was nailed into the middle of the far wall. My eyes followed the solid line up to where about thirty owls were perched. They were all different breeds: some were spotted, others were striped, and still others weren't patterned at all. There were varying sizes as well: short, tall, fat, thin, etc. All of the birds, save two, were holding a yellowish envelope in their beaks.
"Why did you ask the school to send multiple copies of the same letter?" I interrogated. I was still extremely skeptical of this entire event, but the fact that thirty letters were addressed with my name and exact specific address brought out some of the candor in this situation. This 'Hogwarts' school definitely became more feasible.
"Well, we wanted to make sure you received a letter. We also hoped this would also make this entirety appear more credible," Mother replied, reading my mind. "Owls are the wizarding world's mode of mail transportation. Magical families are prone to own an owl or two."
"That explains one of the thousands of questions I have," I comment, a drop of sarcasm rolling off my tongue. "But why did you keep everything a secret from me? How did you manage it all these years?"
"Oh, sweetie, we really did want to tell you everything we knew. We just... weren't... allowed," Father said hesitantly, choosing his words carefully. "When we decided not to tell you, you were a very open and curious child. You started becoming more outgoing and became more straightforward in terms of personality. You never showed signs of slowing down, even to this day. This type of disposition doesn't necessarily strike us as being able to keep secrets for so long, especially when this important, even though you are a very loyal person. It is impossible to take chances with this classified information." He looked to his wife to complete explaining his thoughts. "We locked everything in an invisible cabinet that was remotely magical and charmed ourselves to never speak of magic while around you until your eleventh birthday."
"There were some, er, hardships occurring when we made the decision as well, and no one could even guess how long they would continue to rain peril on us." She took a deep breath and continued, saying the last words faster than the rest. "Our...boss also agreed with our decision."
Your boss?! I mused. Everything is always about their jobs! I don't even know what tasks they must accomplish when working.
"So, does that mean your boss has magical abilities, too? And what does he have to do with your choices, chiefly with such a crucial one, at that?" I resumed my thoughts out loud, expressing my concerns with my parents.
The adults shared a knowing glance.
"Sorry, Elena, but we're not allowed to tell you about him so specifically just quite yet" was the answer I received.
"Oh" I said disappointingly. However, I was actually ecstatic with what they recently told me. Firstly, my parents have repeatedly mentioned the word "allowed" when talking about their boss. Secondly, I now know that this mysterious "boss" is male. These clues could be more beneficial than they originally let on for calculating the identity of this missing figure. "Okay, now please describe more about the wizarding world and 'Hogwarts,'" I commanded with a bit of lingering uncertainty in my voice.
They easily launched into a detailed conversation about everything they kept bottled up and locked away from me. Moving pictures, their very own family owl that they transfigured into a fish that they kept in the river, blood status, and more. They talked about Hogwarts and how amazing it is. Mother was in Ravenclaw and Father was in Gryffindor. He was captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, which they also told me about, and they even showed me their old brooms.
"Watch this. It will definitely remove any doubts still clouding your mind." Father reached inside his pocket and pulled out a long wooden stick, waved it in a circle, and the glass table in front of me started floating upwards! He was levitating the table with this tool!
"It's a wand. All witches and wizards own one. Some more powerful ones can even preform wandless magic, or nonverbal magic." He explained, noticing my extremely surprised and curious face. "We'll be getting you one, too."
I immediately became increasingly excited with each sentence they uttered. Father was right: I totally and completely believed them now.
"There are hundreds of magical animals that the Ministry of Magic - the wizard government - keeps confidential to Muggles. Here: I even have a book about them." Mother hands me a hardcopy book from the bookshelf. I flipped through a few pages and skimmed the contents before interrogating:
"What's a Muggle?"
"What did you mean by 'hardships' when you were explaining your decision to withhold this information?" I remembered to ask.
"Well, er..." my mother started, gulping nervously. "It begins with a Dark wizard people in our world call 'He Who Must Not Be Named,' or 'You Know Who'. We do not mention His name out of fear and respect. But, for the sake of education, I will say His name. He was... Voldemort. You see, about twenty years ago, He started collecting followers. Some declared their loyalty out of fear; others wanted some of His power. Nobody knew who to trust. If anyone stood up to Him, You Know Who would kill them with a spell. The only other safe place was at Hogwarts. He didn't dare to try and mess with Dumbledore - the headmaster. Now, the Potter couple were Head Girl and Boy when they graduated. They would never have joined the Dark side, so He killed them, on Halloween, ten years ago. The real mystery is that He tried to kill their son, Harry, as well. But His attempt failed. No one ever lived after He decided to get rid of them - He killed even the best witches and wizards - but Harry lived, and he was only a baby. He's the Boy Who Lived. In fact, you and he are the same age."
"How fascinating," I murmured, lowering my eyes in sympathy. "So what happened to Vol - oops, excuse me - You Know Who?"
"Good question. They say He disappeared, vanished, the same night He attacked the Potters. That's the biggest mystery, see, because He was getting more and more powerful at the time. So why did He leave?" Father explained.
"Some say he died. We don't think so. Some argue that there wasn't enough human left in Him to die. Some believe He's still out there, biding His time. That's what we think, though it'll be some time before He returns to power. Something about Harry finished Him that night. And no one knows what that special thing was," Mother finished.
I pondered this for a moment, creating possibilities in my mind.
"So now I know the wizarding world exists, but how do I know that I'm definitely part of it?" I strayed to a new topic.
"Well, um, even though you have expressed no signs of underage magic, you still received a Hogwarts letter. Thirty, to be exact. You wouldn't have gotten these if you weren't a witch." He paused. "You also come from a pureblood family. That means that both your Mother and I are completely magical. It's extremely rare for a squib to be born into a pureblooded family. Squibs are non-magic folk born into a magic family. We can tell you are not a squib. It could be that you have shown no signs of magic yet because we have never shown magic around you. Yes... That is it..." Father trailed off. He turned to his wife and they conversed in harsh hushed whispers for a while.
"I don't know if I should attend this... this school. I'm not sure I really belong there," I interrupted. The adults looked at me with wide eyes.
"You must! There is no way we'll let you live like those disastrous Muggles anymore!" Father said with strictness I have never witnessed before.
A sharp sound emitted across the room. Someone gasped, and my cheek stung with pain.
"Yes, Father," I said, looking down. That was a very strange thing for him to do. Whatever the reason, I was going to find out. When he calmed down, of course. I refrained myself as much as possible from shaking.
There was silence for a moment, until I looked up. His hand was a bright red, red as a tomato, and vastly swollen. It was ringing, his hand sounded like it was ringing! Just like the sound when he slapped me.
"You will sleep at Blake's house tonight!" he shouted over the commotion. All the owls were flapping their wings, creating chaos as they attempted to fly away.
Was that underage magic? I have never witnessed anything like that ever in my life! Am I really a witch? I thought, gathering my things and getting ready to travel to the other side of the street, where Blake and her family lived.
I must be.
This is my first story, and I would like as much advice as possible. Sorry in advance if there are errors or I don't write so often! Thanks for all your support. Oh, and by the way, the picture of the girl at the beginning of the chapter is Elena.